University City and Mission Bay will take 4-0 records into their City Western League opener at 3 p.m. today at University City. The Centurions and Buccaneers are two of seven undefeated teams in the county, the only two playing each other this week.
But nobody is calling this game a clash of titans. It is more a tug-of-war between two teams still trying to earn respect.
UC finally cracked the top 10 this week, making its debut at No. 10, after it beat Mira Mesa, 21-0, Friday. The Centurions have made a strong case for the ranking. They've shut out every opponent thus far, outscoring them, 138-0.
But both UC and Mission Bay realize they can't afford to let up, because their opponents have won only eight of 31 games.
"We haven't played the toughest schedule, but we play this schedule every year," said Bucs Coach Jerry Surdy. "I don't claim to be in the top 10. I don't even claim to be in the top 20."
Mission Bay, which has two shutouts of its own and has allowed only 25 points against El Cajon Valley, Christian, Clairemont and San Diego, likes the underdog status it takes into this contest. But they take offense to one publication rating them 33-point underdogs and another describing their schedule as "marshmallow."
"Things are starting to pick up around here, because we've read that stuff," said Mission Bay wide receiver Jeff Hornacek. "That's a little too much. A team's a team."
And a win is a win. UC Coach Steve Vukojevich understands how the Buccaneers feel.
"You can say all you want about who they played, but people were saying the same thing about us last Friday," Vukojevich said. "We were 3-0, but who had we played? We beat Mira Mesa and that put us on the map, so to speak."
This could be the biggest game of the season for the Bucs, who will take a leap in credibility and in the Western League race if they beat UC.
Hornacek and running back Sunny Miller are Mission Bay's big-play men, having accounted for eight of the team's 13 touchdowns. The defense has recorded 11 interceptions, and quarterback Steve Vincent has thrown three touchdowns and no interceptions.
UC's offense is balanced and explosive. Quarterback Daranzol Sheppard and a backfield of Paul Turner, Ed Miller and Greg Russell average 185 yards per game rushing. Sheppard, like Vincent, has not thrown an interception while completing 65% of his passes for 521 yards and eight touchdowns. Turner (eight touchdowns), who has run 10.5 in the 100 meters, has six receptions for a 35.0 average. But Jack Dailey, UC's best offensive linemen, is just as impressed with the unscored-upon defense.
"There's no real studs, but they fly around and gang tackle," Dailey said. "They picked out the 11 most crazy guys and put them out there."
This Weekend's High School Football Games FRIDAY'S GAMES
Visitor Home Site Escondido (1-3, 1-0) El Camino (3-1, 0-1) El Camino Carlsbad (1-3, 0-1) San Marcos (0-3-1, 0-1) San Marcos Oceanside (2-2, 1-0) San Pasqual (4-0, 1-0) San Pasqual Torrey Pines (3-1, 1-0) Ramona (0-4, 0-1) Ramona Mission Bay (4-0, 0-0) University City (4-0, 0-0) University City Bonita Vista (3-1, 1-0) Castle Park (3-1, 0-1) Castle Park Montgomery (2-1-1, 1-0) Chula Vista (2-1-1, 1-0) Chula Vista Hilltop (0-4, 0-1) Southwest (3-1, 1-0) Montgomery Mar Vista (2-2, 0-1) Sweetwater (2-2, 0-1) Sweetwater Poway (3-1, 1-0) Fallbrook (4-0, 1-0) Fallbrook Orange Glen (2-2, 0-1) Vista (3-1, 1-0) Vista RBV (1-3, 0-1) Mt. Carmel (2-1-1, 1-0) Mt. Carmel Rcho Bernardo (3-1, 0-1) San Dieguito (2-2, 0-1) San Dieguito Clairemont (0-4) Hoover (0-4) Hoover Santa Fe Christian (0-4) Calipatria (3-1) Calipatria Brentwood Francis Parker (2-2) Francis Parker Point Loma (2-2) Lincoln (0-4) Mesa College San Diego (2-2) Patrick Henry (2-2) Patrick Henry Madison (1-3) La Jolla (1-3) La Jolla Kearny (3-1) Mira Mesa (2-2) Mira Mesa USDHS (1-3) Serra (1-3) Serra Crawford (2-2) St. Augustine (4-0) San Diego Laguna Beach (1-3) Coronado (1-3) Coronado Army-Navy (2-1) Marian (3-1) Marian Granite Hills (1-3) West Hills (0-4) West Hills El Cajon (2-2) Grossmont (3-1) Grossmont Santana (2-2) Helix (4-0) Helix Mt. Miguel (1-3) El Capitan (3-1) El Capitan Monte Vista (2-2) Valhalla (2-2) Granite Hills
Visitor Home Site Faith Baptist LJCD (0-2) LJCD Christian (0-3) Paramount Brethren (2-2) Artesia
FRIDAY'S GAMES Visitor / Home (League): Time Escondido / El Camino (Avocado): 7:30 Carlsbad / San Marcos (Avocado): 7:30 Oceanside / San Pasqual (Avocado): 7:30 Torrey Pines / Ramona (Avocado): 7:30 Mission Bay / University City (Western): 3:00 Bonita Vista / Castle Park (Metro): 7:30 Montgomery / Chula Vista (Metro): 7:30 Hilltop / Southwest (Metro): 7:30 Mar Vista / Sweetwater (Metro): 7:30 Poway / Fallbrook (Palomar): 7:30 Orange Glen / Vista (Palomar): 7:30 RBV / Mt. Carmel (Palomar): 7:30 Rcho Bernardo / San Dieguito (Palomar): 7:30 Clairemont / Hoover (Nonleague): 3:00 Santa Fe Christian / Calipatria (Nonleague): 3:00 Brentwood / Francis Parker (Nonleague): 4:00 Point Loma / Lincoln (Nonleague): 7:00 San Diego / Patrick Henry (Nonleague): 7:00 Madison / La Jolla (Nonleague): 7:00 Kearny / Mira Mesa (Nonleague): 7:00 USDHS / Serra (Nonleague): 7:30 Crawford / St. Augustine (Nonleague): 7:30 Laguna Beach / Coronado (Nonleague): 7:30 Army-Navy / Marian (Nonleague): 7:30 Granite Hills / West Hills (Nonleague): 7:30 El Cajon / Grossmont (Nonleague): 7:30 Santana / Helix (Nonleague): 7:30 Mt. Miguel / El Capitan (Nonleague): 7:30 Monte Vista / Valhalla (Nonleague): 7:30 SATURDAY'S GAMES Faith Baptist / LJCD (Nonleague): 1:00 Christian / Paramount Brethren (Nonleague): 7:30 FRIDAY'S GAMES Visitor / Home: Comment Escondido / El Camino: Escondido plays for hospitalized Vu Dang, but look for El Camino to rebound. Carlsbad / San Marcos: Both teams having down years. Someone will get a lift and a W. Oceanside / San Pasqual: Oceanside QB John Portugalwill test Eagle secondary. Expect San Pasqual to pass it. Torrey Pines / Ramona: Ramona still looking for points. Torrey Pines defense isn't the place to find them. Mission Bay / University City: The Centurions are so fast, the Buccaneers can't afford to blink. Bonita Vista / Castle Park: CP can't find its offensive line; BV allowed 359 rushing yards last week. Montgomery / Chula Vista: Prediction: Chula Vista's unbeaten streak of 32 league games will end. Hilltop / Southwest: Southwest QB O'Brian Woods, at least 200 yards in every game so far, goes for 300. Mar Vista / Sweetwater: Both teams are hoping to rebound from tough losses last week. Poway / Fallbrook: Poway outscored last 3 foes, 123-6, but Fallbrook's in a different class. Orange Glen / Vista: OG has lost two straight, but shouldattack Vista's weakness against the pass. RBV / Mt. Carmel: RBV fell out of the top 10, Mt. Carmel's trying to get in. Rcho Bernardo / San Dieguito: This could be good game, but loser faces a very long season. Clairemont / Hoover: Finally, the game for which both teams havebeen waiting. The loser walks home. Santa Fe Christian / Calipatria: SFC hasn't had much luck with 8-man game this year; 11 on field is too much to ask. Brentwood / Francis Parker: Parker has lost two in a row despite scoring 69 points. Point Loma / Lincoln: After tonight, Lincoln could be 0-5 and go on to win Central League. Won't be first time. San Diego / Patrick Henry: George McGovern was presidential candidate the last time San Diego beat Henry. Madison / La Jolla: Vikings aren't the team that won 23 games the past two years. Kearny / Mira Mesa: Series is 4-4. Kearny won first four and is ready to resume advantage. USDHS / Serra: Serra improves each week. USDHS, better than its record, can't afford injury. Crawford / St. Augustine: St. Augustine schedule makers need to quit playing it safe. More guts, less Colts. Laguna Beach / Coronado: Laguna's only victory was against a JV squad. Army-Navy / Marian: Army-Navy squeaked by Harbor League Christian last week, Marian won't be so easy. Granite Hills / West Hills: Hills are not as close as records indicate. Granite much tougher. El Cajon / Grossmont: Underdog Braves looking for rare third consecutive victory. Won't get it. Santana / Helix: Helix is second in county on offense, sixth on defense and No.1 in rankings. Mt. Miguel / El Capitan: If Matadors repeat nine fumbles this week, El Cap liable to invoke 45-point rule. Monte Vista / Valhalla: Both have won two in a row to even records. Monte Vista gets third here. SATURDAY'S GAMES Faith Baptist / LJCD: Country Day young, winless and facing tough leagueschedule. Christian / Paramount Brethren: Against one of the finest Southern Section 1-A schools, Christian victory has to wait.